“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”
It’s amazing the amount of physical unconsciousness that can surround us in life…simply because of the wild card of “sentimentality” that we can often play.
I have to admit that I’m one who can fall into that trap, either by abdicating responsibility and claiming my upbringing as shaping me that way (mawkish “stuff” all over the house; Dad’s shed full of everything he “might need one day”) or my zodiac proclivity as a sentimental Leo. Yet, sooner rather than later in moving into midlife, I’m onto the seductive design of the trap and at least on the way to one day claiming “that gig is up!”
I can be grateful for both a partner coming into my life who leans toward the practical and dispassionate as well as a growing sense of what it will take to become a true Back Forty Freedom Flier.
Whether my mother encouraged me to hold onto items because I might want to “look at them when I get old” or my father was the garage and shed black-hole filler does not determine my Big Game Back Forty Future…if I get and remain conscious.
To live inside of the philosophy that “the best is yet to come and, babe, won’t it be fine” as well as the belief that “I have yet to do what I came here to do” means that my eyes, ears, environments, mind and heart must be forward-focused vs. rear-view-mirror fixed. Living in that paradigm requires being nimble, quick, light and bright…without the weight (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) of past, past, past globbing onto me at every turn.
I don’t need to watch 10 episodes of Hoarders or even to memorize and recite all passages of “The Japanese Art of Tidying Up” in order to awaken my need for Back Forty above-the-surface oxygen. These tools may serve to initially inspire me, but the critical and necessary ocular redirect toward what is in front of me (in life, purpose, passion, play) vs. what has taken place behind me is the key action to take.
Dropping past-based ballast and replacing with future-focused environmental influences creates lightness and directional guidance. Exchanging the diploma for a dream board? Substituting an old picture with a graphic plan? Swapping a souvenir for a framed list of intentions? All are ways to detach from the lines so that our Back Forty Balloon can gain the altitude and attitude for a second half/best half impact.
“The true heart of organizing is about gaining your freedom.”
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
In our Back Forty, the second half/best half of life, it’s easy to make statements like “this is just the way I am”, “been there, done that” or “I see where this is going”…because, face it, we’ve been around the block a few times, yes?
However, when we come from all the infinite “wisdom” that we’ve amassed, it can actually restrict us because we rest on fixed and immovable opinions about ourselves, our world and what we perceive (from our also amassed and very logical interpretations) as possible and what’s not.
I recently began to explore my “mood of being” in the world as I play my Big Game Back Forty Future and noticed that, even as the pieces of my game puzzle are falling into place in wonderful ways, I was carrying around a resident mood of hard work and struggle.
It showed up like this: no matter that more and more manifestations of good were showing up with ease and grace according to my game, I was using other outside venues to be “frustrated”: traffic on the freeway, customer service issues with vendors, and various other so-minor-they’re-laughable problems.
A friend in my Back Forty Community suggested that I take the time to actually be “present” to all the good happening, to actually drive in peace as I focus on how good life is becoming, and to watch my tendency to bring old patterns into my life just because I’m used to them (e.g., venting when various issues arise with phone, internet, services, etc.).
I saw that I was in a new place, where life is really good and getting better and better. Yet, I hadn’t let go of old, perhaps subconscious, patterns I adopted when working to “get there.”
It had me realize that I’m probably not the only one who – coming into what can be “the best is yet to come” part of life – might be carrying forward certain undistinguished ways of being adopted from past situations and circumstances of life.
If we’re to really fulfill on this second half/best half of “what we came here to do”, then being able to play in the PRESENT is critical.
Perhaps “presence” has three aspects we can consider.
One is our actually being “present”, which means not only staying out of the past and future so as to be in this moment with the people we’re with right now…but also being present to our internal state of thoughts, feelings and emotions vs. projecting them.
Another is the “presence” we bring of our Self into any situation. The small s “self” rarely brings the same value that our big S “Self” affords.
Yet one more is the “Presence” which we allow to move through and guide us, whatever we consider that bigger-than-us intelligence to be. It’s actually one of the “7 Critical Embraces for a Radical Second Half”, the tag line of our upcoming book, “The Back Forty”, and the content of our INFUSE Program.
Your Big Game Back Forty Future will require all of YOU just as it will require all of me. If we consider that the first half of life was just R&D, research and development, to only DISCOVER who we really are and what we came here to do, a renewed relationship with presence is required.
“Presence is more than just being there.”
– Malcolm Forbes
As we bravely pursue a Back Forty Big Game Future full of possibility, it’s critical that we empower ourselves every step of the way.
When we’re toddlers, we are encouraged in taking those first steps. Then, in adolescence – if we’re lucky – we are supported to try new things and “stick with it” until we get better. Also, in early adulthood – if we’re lucky – we gain mentors and folks far more experienced than us guiding us on paths to learn skills and become competent in our abilities to contribute.
Yet, as we get older, there’s this below-the-radar assumption that “we should know by now”. There’s rarely the rah-rah fanfare, as folks move into their second half of life, saying “Hey, you can do or be ANYTHING!” It’s taken for granted that you’ve probably made the most of yourself that you’re ever going to make.
Add to that external-voice cultural mindset the internal voices which say “this is just the way I am” or “that’s not me” or “I’ve never been good at that” and you have the makings of what I call The Incredible All-Things-Possible Shrinking World…where very little is possible.
Acknowledging ourselves and even creating communities which are all about advocating an all-things-possible mentality at any age best prepares us – as our Back Forty mantra claims – “to do what we came here to do.”
On a daily, weekly, monthly, annual…hell, HOURLY basis, we want to be planting flags on the territory we’ve claimed in moving our Big Games forward.
It’s way easy to minimize our progress – in starting a new initiative, business, hobby, relationship, fitness routine – when it’s not perfect.
Harder perhaps, but building the muscle of acknowledging our progress short of perfection is one to bulk up for The Back Forty Big Game Future we came to express.
“Development is an endurance exercise with incremental improvements.”
-Sri Mulyani Indrawati
Building character, confidence, a skill, a career, a business, a country all take time.
There’s the dance uphill from unconscious incompetent all the way to unconscious competent.
It requires endurance for sure, and just as much patience…for when we or it ain’t happening.
I tell my Back Forty and coaching clients that, to the degree we want to grow, it requires an equal amount of self compassion.
Without the latter, it’s impossible to hang in there long enough for the nurturing of that which we want to build.
Ever stood over a fledgling plant and screamed “Grow!!” How’s that working for ya?
Where can you turbo-boost your desired growth by directing forgiveness toward yourself today?
“Heroism is endurance for one moment more.”
-George F. Kennan
“People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
when juxtaposed with
often create oxymorons.
Where in your work, life or purpose for being on the planet can you embrace unsettledness today…and do something about it?
Where’s the next “home”?
“It is good to feel lost… because it proves you have a navigational sense of where “Home” is. You know that a place that feels like being found exists. And maybe your current location isn’t that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it.”
They say ignorance is bliss, but we chide that remark because nobody seeks to be ignorant. Of course, it is simply bestowed upon some, but not because they sought it out. And because they aren’t even aware – they don’t know what they don’t know – bliss could be said to be the result.
Confucious said “Those who are meant to hear will understand. Those who are not meant to understand will not hear.”
Yet, for those of us who seek the antithesis of ignorance, we do everything in our power to gain intelligence and wisdom. We get degrees, advanced degrees, attend seminars, read books, listen to podcasts and audios, participate in workshops, engage in online learning…and, oh yes, there are also the schools of “life” and “hard knocks”.
The only issue with wisdom is if and when it becomes the limiting factor to otherwise inspired action. We may call our “been there, done that” or “that’s just the way I am” statements those of wisdom and yet, in their shrinking-of-the-all-things-possible-world effect, they can limit our experience, joy and even bliss.
The eastern philosophies speak to this a great deal. “Shoshin” is a term in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when approaching anything, even if engaging in something you already “know”, just as a beginner would. Also, Laozi (Lao Tzu), ancient Chinese founder of philosophical Taoism, said “To know that you do not know is the best.”
In our Back Forty, though we may do many great works in mentoring and guiding earlier generations (as practiced in an organization we support, Encore.org), it’s important to do a double-take on ourselves and look to see where our supposed “wisdom” is limiting our own continued growth and development.
If, as we say in The Back Forty, you have YET to do what you came here to do, then we can’t afford the luxury of thinking that WE ALONE know what is or isn’t possible for us or what we can or can’t do.
The Back Forty community is founded on the principle that, together, we can keep re-MIND-ing ourselves to open our minds as to what this second half has in store for us when we treat everything in the first half as simply R & D (research and development).
If you didn’t know that you couldn’t do or be something at any age — no matter what you’ve done or been before — what does your first half of R & D tell you to go do or be now?
“It takes a very long time to become young.”
Often when we step off the non-thinking train that’s been running since…
…we started in a particular career that we never left
…we had kids and then spent 18yrs giving them wings
…we began a relationship or marriage that got caught up in the swirl of the items above
…we developed financial security that disappeared in some recession, depression, transgression or repossession…
…there’s a questioning period of what we coulda/shoulda/woulda done had we been more aware and alert. Along with that questioning can come a seeming lack of confidence to step out, take a risk and/or play big again.
The adage “youth is wasted on the young” doesn’t necessarily apply to daring because young folks have no real experience of “failure” yet…and therefore they swing boldly (and sometimes blindly) at balls coming over their plate, making each new swing a learning experience (whether they would call it that or not). They are “daring” if simply by the lack of knowledge of what can and can’t be done.
In The Back Forty, however, there can be so much protective gear weighing us down that our ability to swing is hampered…if we’re brave enough to even get up to the plate again at all. After a few fast balls clocking us in the head or heart, we can become skittish to stretch out and unprotect ourselves for a good, honest swing. Relationships, careers, building businesses – taking risks in all of these can get over-thought to the point of inaction.
For example, having built a home and family in my late 20’s, two-car garage with Mercedes, backyard with hot-tub, and extra room with crib, I experienced the non-thought of simply doing what people do as they get married and settle down.
Yet, within 10 years of such natural, life progressions, a divorced-and-co-parenting relationship had been in place for years, the house was owned by another, and a two-year custody suit was just starting.
I doubt I’m the only one who has seen the “little pink houses for you and me” picture burn to ashes.
In the wake-up call that gets termed “midlife crisis”, however, we have an opportunity to actually begin thinking vs. being scared to move or make a mistake (again).
One new way of thinking is to reframe all of it as having been for our highest and greatest good and to look for and see our evolution possibilities that arose from it. What have I been through that I can help others with? What gifts, talents, abilities, new superpowers did I develop as I went through the crucible and/or chrysalis of all that stuff? How can I consciously use daring to grow and no longer be weighed down by victim stories of what he/she/they did to me?
Perhaps it’s this second wind of evolution – our Re-Evolution – that is the real game to be played in this span of time called a life…and what if, at midlife, it’s only beginning?
The late Alvin Toffler, futurist and author of FutureShock, The Third Wave, and Powershift said:
“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
Throughout our day, we are making lots of little choices that we can mostly fall unconscious to. Yet those choices start to add up to a direction we’re headed that – once we get there – we wonder how we got here! The culmination of our unconscious choices only becomes visible above the surface once they’ve built upon themselves outside of our watching.
There are both big and small choices we make every day which it might pay for us to become conscious of…so as to wake ourselves up to why we end up where we do.
For example, I can see a homeless person and feel the sadness of wanting to help but being busy on my way and/or then the guilt of not stopping long enough or giving enough to help them. Or, I can see this feeling coming over me as a choice I’m making and choose a different direction: to give something if I’m so inclined as well as send a silent blessing their way and see them attracting what they need.
Was that just a rationalization? Did I say that blessing just to make myself feel better? Yes, maybe! Yet, at the end of my day, having made those similar types of choices throughout, I will likely have a state of mind that is of better service, liveliness and happy disposition than if I make more of the contrary choices.
We can relate this to Law of Attraction if we want, which says you get more of whatever you think about. Yet it’s really only an active mind-management exercise of conscious directionality during the day.
I faced a big financial decision recently to either wait “until the perfect time” (do those ever come?) to invest in a new home or – with tons of planning and consultation with caring supporters already under our belt, loan approvals assured, and clarity around numbers solidified – to go for it even though we don’t know what tomorrow will bring (who does??).
I realized that, though this was a “big” decision, I make smaller ones multiple times every day as to whether I trust that the Universe is going to keep giving and supporting me or whether I need to horde and cover my nuts (so to speak) because the flow might stop.
In The Back Forty, we have the opportunity to choose what direction we’re going to head – toward aliveness and what esteemed psychologist Erik Erikson calls “generativity” or whether we’re going to head toward safety and what he calls “stagnation”.
We are about generativity…because, IF, just IF have yet to do what you came here to do, how will you do it unless you keep playing bigger than you are now?
At what age does the idea of solid, supportive mentoring first catch us?
As a career/executive coach and spiritual counselor for over 30 years, I watch as so many young folks go out into life just shooting from the hip with whatever moods, whims or impulses hit them…unaware that there is a world of wisdom out there which they could tap into to gain information and make better decisions for themselves. Much less gain access to thought leaders and opportunities that could open doors.
But they say youth is wasted on the young.
I also see many people tied into careers, industries, relationships in life who either never learned the power of supportive mentoring and/or they have grown to an age where they think they “should know by now” and, if they don’t, surely don’t want to advertise it.
However, in The Back Forty, we say that, no matter what your age or what you have accomplished (or not) thus far in life, you have YET to do what you came here to do.
Therefore, life and growth and becoming and fulfilling our purposeful reason for being on the planet is an ongoing game that doesn’t have a time-limit or age-marker on it.
I personally didn’t understand the power of mentoring early in life. Frankly, due to some perceptions from my childhood, I was actually afraid of strong, powerful men. Not like men are the only ones who can mentor a young man, and yet I didn’t at all tap into this very valuable and available aspect of life until much later…when I did the work to release the fear of strong, powerful men.
Those of us playing the second half of life could find many and varied reasons for not tapping into the wealth of wisdom and knowledge out there in the areas that we are passionate about. “I’m too old to try something new” or “Well, this is the way I’ve always done or seen things, and I’m pretty ok with things as they are”…and yet those statements are all-but-too-close to complacency and mediocre living.
IF, just IF you have YET to do what you CAME here to do, what could be possible for you to take on and explore for yourself: in your work, in a relationship, in your interests, in your community impact?
In The Back Forty, we invite you, as well as ourselves, to take on that “the best is yet to come, and babe won’t it be fine”. Therefore, gaining the supportive mentoring and wise Yoda-ship of those who won’t buy your stories but, instead, will invest in your possibility – this is where to build.
Got your Yoda?
“There is no lack of knowledge out there…just a shortage of asking for help.”
We often want things to move fast. The business we’re building, the reach we’re extending, the relationship we’re developing, the role we’re growing into: it’s exciting when things “take off.”
Yet, airplanes have elevators and rudders and rockets have fins to ensure that the speed is contained and focused.
Having our own stabilizers in place and functioning decreases the potential for going off course and ensures that the speed is most capitalized upon.
Regular walks in nature, a fitness regime, dedicated hobby time, regular check-ins with committed listeners can all serve as stabilizers…and yet many get dropped when things get busy.
When asked how much he meditated each day, Gandhi answered two hours. When then asked how much he meditated when things were going crazy around him, he answered four hours.
If things are going astral, what fin can you put in to balance the atmospheric pressure…even if you think there’s no time?
If things aren’t going astral, how can you design fins now for when they do?
“A stable mind is like the hub of a wheel. The world may spin around you, but the mind is steady.”